Civil suits in Canada are lengthy affairs. More often than not they take years to settle. There are numerous steps in the process and your lawyer will have to make sure that the Rule of Civil Procedure are followed at each steps. This article will give a very quick snap shot of the major steps involved in any civil suit.
1. First, one side files a Statement of Claim. In any normal track civil suite (any claim over $25,000), no evidence need be attached to this document. It is simply an overview of what is being alleged and what damages are being sought. In practice the damages claimed are usually exaggerated beyond reasonable expectation. This is because it is very easy to lower the number. It is difficult to adjust it higher. The party filing the suit is the Plaintiff.
2. Next, the responding side files its Statement of Defense. The party filing a Statement of Defense is called the Defendant. The Statement of Defense either denies liability to the allegations in the Statement of Claim, or seeks to decrease it. If no Statement of Defense is filed, the Defendant is deemed to acknowledge the truth of the allegations set out in the Statement of Claim. It is possible for other pleadings to be added at this point, including cross claims, counter claims, third party claims and the like, but to keep it simple our suit will consist of just one claim and a defense to that claim.
3. Once the Statement of Defense is filed, the pleadings are deemed to be closed. At this point the parties exchange all of the documentary evidence that they will be relying on to prove their case. This is bundled together in what is called an Affidavit of Documents.
4. The fourth step are the discoveries. The parties will all meet in a pre-determined location and interview each other. In major litigations, each party may be examined for up to 7 hours by the opposing side, to determine what they know that is related to the case. Everything that is said at this point is under oath and may be used at a later point.
5. Mediation will usually follow. If the suit was started in Toronto, mediation is mandatory. In other jurisdictions it is normally utilized but not required. At this stage the two sides will once again meet in a pre-determined location and a professional mediator will attempt to reconcile their differences.
6. If mediation fails, the final step is a trial. Depending on its complexity, a trial may last anywhere from one day to several weeks. Sometimes adjournments may stretch it out to months. If the matter proceeds all the way to trial, the losing side is usually ordered to pay a portion of the costs to the winners.
Both Arkadiusz J. Empel and Oleksiy Bykov of our firm practice civil litigation. If you believe that you have a civil matter that you are entitled to compensation for call the law office of Bykov Empel LLP which serves Toronto and the Greater Toronto Region at 416.519.3259.